Eritrea’s importance in the Horn of Africa regional politics is dictated more by its strategic location along the Red Sea than its wealth. Despite talks of gold discovery, Eritrea is one the world’s poorest countries with an economy that was further bankrupted by a costly and absurd war with Ethiopia in 1998. Yet, Eritrea remains a regional power to reckon with.

EritreaEritrea has been deeply troubled since independence in 1991. Following the devastating war with Ethiopia (1998-2000), an authoritarian, militarised regime has further tightened political space, tolerating neither opposition nor dissent.

It was a question worth killing over, in the minds of some Somali Islamic extremists. In May, Ahmed Omar Hashi, a reporter for Mogadishu’s Radio Shabelle asked Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to explain his country’s support for al-Shabab, the hardline Somali Islamic group. Afwerki explained that Eritrea only wanted to enable “Somali nationalists” in their efforts at “ensuring Somali unity, sovereignty and independence.”…President Afwerki’s reply to Hashi was a softball answer to a softball question. But that didn’t matter to the Mogadishu-based Islamic extremists, who later called Hashi on his cell phone, accusing him of spreading lies about al-Shabab, and threatening to kill him.

It was a question worth killing over, in the minds of some Somali Islamic extremists. In May, Ahmed Omar Hashi, a reporter for Mogadishu’s Radio Shabelle asked Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to explain his country’s support for al-Shabab, the hardline Somali Islamic group. Afwerki explained that Eritrea only wanted to enable “Somali nationalists” in their efforts at “ensuring Somali unity, sovereignty and independence.”…President Afwerki’s reply to Hashi was a softball answer to a softball question. But that didn’t matter to the Mogadishu-based Islamic extremists, who later called Hashi on his cell phone, accusing him of spreading lies about al-Shabab, and threatening to kill him.